A photo a day project
Life happens. Remember when you thought that you’d have hours to spend gazing at your baby, playing peekaboo and gurgling to each other, while your house gleamed with cleanliness and your dinner roasted in the oven? How did that work out for you?!
It is easy to let the moments slip away while you are busy just getting by. You realise a couple of weeks have gone by and you haven’t taken a single photo. Then you try to make up for it, and take 50 photos of her in the same spot, doing the same thing.
A photo a day project can be just the push you need to get you out of playing catch up, and into taking the photos that will mean the most to you in twenty years' time.
Before my first son was born, I got the idea into my head that I wanted to take a photo a day of him for the first year of his life. I fully committed myself to the project - as much from stubbornness than anything else! There were many days early on when I almost gave up - times when we were so sleep deprived and desperate that I wasn't even sure we could survive the day, let alone worry about taking photos. By the end of his first year, though, I decided I loved the project so much that I'd sign up for a second year. When his little brother was born, it only seemed fair to do the same for him. And hey, if I was taking a photo of one of my boys, I might as well take photos of them both, right? So here we are now, more than three years in, and we still haven't missed a day. I love the project more than ever.
The best thing about a photo a day project isn’t that you end up with a photo from each day – it is all about changing your mindset.
A photo a day project helps you step out of the approach of only taking a photo when something out of the ordinary is happening.
It makes you much more aware that the ordinary is where the real magic happens.
Most of my favourite photos of my boys are ones from unremarkable moments that I would never have thought to capture if I hadn’t dug my camera out for the sake of finishing this project. These aren't the perfect studio photos that have been planned and prepared (although there are a handful of those from across the year) - they are the spontaneous, everyday moments. This is our real life.
So many of the images from my own childhood are from holidays and special events. There are only a few photos of my sisters and me just doing everyday things. I love being able to capture these moments for my boys to look back on, and the photo a day project is a huge help in doing this.
Set yourself a goal. Make it an action on your to do list, or set a reminder on your phone that you have to tick off before the end of the day. Even three years into my photo a day project, there have been many days that I would have forgotten my daily photo if not for my trusty phone reminder. There have even been a few days where I’ve snuck into my boys’ bedrooms after they were asleep to catch a quick snap before midnight, just so I could tick off that little box!
It is a big commitment, so if it seems daunting, try setting a small goal to start off with. Two weeks, or maybe a month. If you love it, set another goal to continue for the next month. If daily feels like too much, your target could be a photo a week, or even once a month – whatever you think you can stick to.
Decide what your reasons are so that your goal is clear. Some photo a day projects are about the photographer - improving your photography, photographing a variety of subjects etc. Those are added bonuses of my project (it amazes me to look back over how far my photography has come!), but my focus is all about my children. My goal is to have a photo a day taken of each child - not necessarily for me to take the photo. I love taking the chance to exist in some of their photos myself!
Try to change things up a bit. Some of your photos will be the traditional looking-at-the-camera ones, but capture some variety too. Photograph the things your child loves most today. What is her favourite way to spend her time? What makes him laugh? What are all the tiny details that seem so normal now that you hardly even notice them - but that you'll forget in a few months if you don't photograph them?
This is what one year of photos looks like. I can't even begin to say how much it means to be able to look back at these and watch my brand new little baby grow into a toddler.
Yes, it takes commitment. Yes, it means spending a few minutes every single day. Yes, it's another thing to add to the never ending to do list that comes with being a parent.
In ten years time, though? Twenty? I'm pretty sure this will be one of the only things from my to do list that feels like it mattered.